Event science: Measuring the performance of exhibitions

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Event marketers at Intel Corp. cannot directly trace a sale back to the decision to add a mobile recharging station to their exhibition footprint. But they can make the case to invest more deeply in the seating area, thanks to positive in-person interviews and metrics that demonstrated that the lounge made people stay longer and explore the booth more deeply, said Victor Torregroza, corporate event marketing program manager at Intel. “Onsite interviews are really valuable, and you get instant feedback,” Torregroza said. “We take it up to management, and we share key metrics and learning.” Events marketers who want to increase the impact of their exhibitions need to look beyond bottom-line results and gather feedback that helps them develop a more complete understanding of performance, said Joe Federbush, VP-sales and marketing at event measurement company Exhibit Surveys. The company works with marketers such as Torregroza to help maximize the impact of events programs. “There is so much data out there,” Federbush said. “[The challenge is] trying to figure out which data is actionable. A company can understand not only how effective they were in increasing sales and [return on investment] but in changing perceptions, and increasing awareness and effectively communicating messages.” Federbush's recent report for the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, titled “Beyond ROI and ROO: Using Measurement to Enhance Decisions and Improve Exhibit Results,” recommends a reverse-engineering process to help exhibitors better select events and evaluate outcomes. Exhibitors collect data from sources—show organizers, anonymous post-show surveys and in-person interviews—amassing enough feedback to understand how elements of the event not only attracted attendees and engaged them but whether those outcomes aligned with marketing goals. “You look at bottom-line results and ask why you did how you did,” Federbush said. “Understanding starts with the attendees—and looking at those attendees and how many represent your potential audience—and then understanding how you did at selectively attracting the right people to your booth. And then, once you got them there, what was the quality of the engagement?” Those insights can help events marketers reformat future plans and better direct investments, determining if show performance is the result of the venue itself or the approach of the exhibitor. “It's easy to point fingers, but this model helps you break it down.” A free events ROI tool kit is available on the Exhibit Surveys site.
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